Lately I’ve been listening to the late, great American R&B singer Billy Stewart, who was known for his unique, urgent percussive phrasing in the early 60’s. He died in a car accident while driving to a gig, taking a couple of his band members with him. His originality and influence on others aside, the lack of an undeniably great song in his repertoire may explain why he hasn’t become a mythologized icon like so many musicians who met a tragic early end.
It’s got me thinking about the staggering number of deaths in the workplace of the gigging musician. If you factor in traveling as an essential part of the job, then statistically it must be one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Anyone for touring Western Canada in a van in the winter?